Fresno Yosemite International Airport Welcomes California’s Inaugural Wings for Autism® Program

Fresno, CA (May 12, 2017) – Tomorrow, Fresno Yosemite International Airport will host California’s inaugural Wings for Autism® program sponsored by The Arc of the United States, in partnership with The Arc Fresno/Madera Counties, SkyWest Airlines, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Delta Global Services and HP. The Wings for Autism® program provides individuals with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families the opportunity to prepare for air travel in a real-life environment.

Air travel can prove particularly challenging with all of the activity at a busy airport including the crowds, unfamiliar sounds and noises. The Wings for Autism® program will not only help to alleviate the stress individuals and their families may experience when traveling, but will also enlighten airport and airline professionals about how best to serve individuals with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Fifty families from California’s Central Valley region have signed up to benefit from Wings for Autism® hosted at Fresno Yosemite International Airport. The program has received such tremendous interest and registration reached full capacity within three days of its introduction. Families will begin to arrive on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. for airline check-in with Delta Global Services. After receiving their boarding passes, the group will proceed to TSA security screening and then to the gate area where SkyWest Airlines will announce a simulated flight departure and will begin boarding families on the airline’s regional jet.

At the conclusion, participants will receive a gift bag filled with travel keepsakes donated by the airport and partners as well as a social story book to personalize their Wings for Autism® experience. A giant backdrop featuring a SkyWest aircraft designed and donated by HP will give families the opportunity to capture memories of their day at the airport. A second airport rehearsal will be repeated at 1:30 p.m.

“As the first airport in California to host The Arc’s Wings for Autism® program, Fresno Yosemite International Airport is pleased to fill a need in our community and region by helping families navigate air travel in an encouraging and learning environment,” said Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle. “Planning for the event has been a unique opportunity for all of the partners and volunteers genuinely eager to support a program created to prepare families and enhance their travel experience.”

"We are excited to host the Wings for Autism® in Fresno and delighted that this will be the first event hosted in California in the program’s history. For individuals with autism spectrum disorders, everyday tasks can sometimes prove to be far more difficult for them," said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “We are grateful to our partners Fresno Yosemite International Airport, SkyWest Airlines, TSA, Delta Global Services, HP and The Arc of Fresno/Madera Counties – who are committed to making air travel possible for families with individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities."

“SkyWest is honored to take part in the inaugural California Wings for Autism® event,” said Lori Hunt, Vice President of People at SkyWest Airlines. “There’s no better way to share our love for aviation than by introducing the miracle of flight to these most special passengers.”

“The Transportation Security Administration is honored to support the Fresno Airports Wings for Autism® event this Saturday designed to alleviate some of the stress that families experience by creating an environment of help and assistance to our entire community,” said Robert Benson, Director of Operations for TSA Fresno. “We are excited to work with all our Airport partners and The Arc, assuring everyone has a chance to experience the benefit of air travel.”

“HP is proud to be a sponsor of the inaugural Wings for Autism® event. We are honored that HP’s printing technologies help families and participants learn about air travel, share emotions and record memories of their fun day at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport,” said Enrique Lores, President of HP Imaging, Printing & Solutions.

Fresno Yosemite International Airport - Fresno Yosemite International Airport currently offers Valley passengers daily non-stop flights to Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Guadalajara, Mexico on domestic and international carriers. Fresno Yosemite International Airport is a municipally owned entity operating as a self-supporting enterprise. No City of Fresno general funds are used to operate Fresno Yosemite International Airport or Fresno Chandler Executive Airport.

SkyWest Airlines - As a leading air service provider offering global access to millions of people each month, SkyWest partners with the world’s largest network carriers including United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. With a fleet of 389 aircraft, SkyWest’s more than 12,000 aviation professionals operate nearly 2,000 flights each day to 218 destinations throughout North America. SkyWest is known for its industry-leading workforce, exceptional leadership team, and continued solid operational and economic performance. The airline is headquartered in St. George, Utah. For more information visit www.skywest.com or follow us on Twitter @SkyWestAirlines

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